Belfast Telegraph

Reese Witherspoon was appalled to be the only woman on set as her career took off

The actress couldn't imagine how difficult it was for a woman of colour to land roles until she met A Wrinkle in Time castmate Mindy Kaling.

Reese Witherspoon still shudders when she thinks about her early acting roles, because she was surrounded by men.

The Legally Blonde star has written an essay for the new issue of Glamour magazine, in which she tackles sexism and racism in Hollywood, and the 41-year-old recalls a time less than a couple of decades ago when women weren't taken at all seriously by movie executives.

"I remember, 15 years ago, being a young actress and starting to audition for movies in L.A.," Reese writes. "There were always a lot of young women waiting in the green room for their shot at the one part there was for a girl in any given movie. Because that's all there was - one part.

"As I got some of those parts, I would arrive on set to realise I was the only girl with a speaking part. There were also no women in the crew - maybe a girl or two in the wardrobe department, but no one in any other department. I was literally surrounded by 150 men.

"I remember thinking it was odd that women made up half the population but such small percentages of roles in Hollywood, on and off the screen."

And Reese insists it's still tough for women of colour to nail roles - a harsh reality she learned from her A Wrinkle in Time castmate Mindy Kaling.

"When I asked Mindy Kaling, 'Don't you ever get exhausted by always having to create your own roles?' she said, 'Reese, I've never had anything that I didn't create for myself'," Witherspoon writes. "I thought, 'Wow, I feel like a jerk for asking that; I used to have parts that just showed up for me. I can't imagine how hard it is to write your own parts and simultaneously have to change people's perceptions of what a woman of colour is in today's society."'

"You can complain about these things," she adds. "You can get stuck in the emotion of it - and sometimes I do, and I get really angry. I'll get p**sed off and stomp around the house. The anger comes from such a deep, real place for me. But my mother always said to me, 'If you want something done, do it yourself.'"

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